Plastic Soup

It was a dramatic Earth Day at the Seed.  Maybe passionate would be a better word.  Those who had the great fortune of being with us were greeted by an “installation” of nearly 300 empty plastic water bottles, strewn all over the entrance area.  Some of the children were disturbed by the mass of water bottles and instinctively wanted to pick them up for recycling.  You probably saw a replica of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, created by our activist kindergarteners.  It was a galvanized metal tub with bits of floating plastic.  A sign reading “K-1 Garbage Patch, Bag the Bags” was posted behind the swirling soup.  The kindergarteners also made paper Earths, each with a message, that were attached to the front door.  The entrance display also included facts about water bottles and plastic uncovered by the 3rd/4th graders.

Throughout the morning, each class busily engaged in activities connected to Earth Day.  Toddler 1s used empty water bottles to make sensory bottles. Temporarily filled with colored water and other eye-catching items, they did a lot of shaking and observing.  The Toddler 2s made a lovely piece of art from found objects on the playground.  The Preschool 2.5/3s created a string of watercolored Earths, each with a pair of hands holding a heart with the child’s intention for helping the Earth.  At our all-school sharing of Earth Day activities, the Preschool 3s demonstrated their musical instruments personally constructed from recycled materials.  Blue water-filled bottles with a small piece of plastic bag inside were reminders from the Preschool 4s that plastic bags and bottles need to be recycled to avoid damage to ocean creatures and the Earth. The PreK students shared their graph they’ve been making all week, documenting use of reusable containers, recyclables and eventual trash from their lunches.  In addition to the front entrance display, the kindergarteners attended the meeting wearing plastic bag costumes (modeled after the Bag Monsters  A display of plastic utensils used at the Seed picnic compared to reusable silverware was presented by the 1st/2nd graders.  And the 3rd/4th graders filled our heads with even more important facts about the impact of plastic on our planet.

We ended our sharing with “Celebrate Life on Planet Earth” and went  outside for a picnic.  Although the facts about plastic’s invasion of our environment were hard to hear, a feeling of hope remained.  The kids, especially the fours and up, for the most part seemed to grasp the idea that this is serious business and we can do this.  We HAVE to do this.  As I was leaving the Seed late Wednesday afternoon, one of the moms told me her son had found $80 and they were deciding how to use it to be helpful to someone.  After all of our studies about the impact of plastic on the ocean, he wanted to use it to help the ocean creatures.  I drove away that day feeling grateful and inspired, recognizing that the Seed is a wave already extending far out to sea.  In our own way we are taking on the plastic soup, that will hopefully someday be a thing of the past, in large part due to efforts of this generation of young ecologists.